Bacon Wrapped, Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

I wanted a creative title for this post. I really did. But how do you make a title like that any more awesome than it already is? I don’t think it’s possible.

I challenge you.

So while I say I eat paleo (which I do most of the time), I also incorporate dairy in my life when I want it. I know, I know. Give me a hard time. Call me primal. Or whatever. Here’s why I do it:

I can’t eat gluten. Never. Ever. Forever.

So I can never “cheat” by eating gluten. I’d be so sick, it’s not worth it.

I can however, enjoy whole milk or cream occasionally. Or even cheese. Although, I try to limit cheese where possible, unless raw milk cheese. There are exceptions though.

These are one of those.


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I decided to make these after having some AMAZEBALLS ones at The Misfit Bar in Santa Monica. And to think we almost didn’t order them. But I thought they’d be too complicated for me. I talk a big game, but really, I’m not a creative cook. But I really wanted them. So I did some research, and came across this blog post (here!). But I didn’t have toothpicks, and 12 dates wasn’t that many, so I decided to free-for-all it. And the results were delicious. Plus, everyone has been amazed that I did this. Win-win.

So here’s how you impress people and win friends. Just go with it.

Dates have pits. In case you didn’t know. Fresh dates, that is. I’d make some really awful pun here, but truth be told…I hate puns. Legit hate them. And yep…my name is Hope. There’s irony there. Can we all move past that?

So you gots to cut the pits out. Also a great way to put the cheese in. How else are you gonna stuff them with goat cheese? To do that, just cut it open – aka slice it. Don’t cut the things in half, just cut them open enough to get the date out and put the cheese in. See image below for exhibit A.

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Here’s the deal with this recipe. I’m not gonna tell you how much to use of anything.

I know. That means it’s not really a recipe. But the thing is…I don’t know how many dates you have, or how much cheese you like, or what kind of bacon you prefer.

I bought a package of fresh dates at Trader Joe’s, a small container of goat cheese, and had a package of bacon. I used all the dates. About 1/4 of the cheese, and all the bacon.

Back on track.

Take about a spoonful, or however much cheese will fit in the dates, and put it in there you’ve taken the pits out.

Here’s a little thing I learned – more cheese is better here. I didn’t use enough cheese (in my opinion), so it was very much date-heavy. So cram that thing with goat cheese.

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I know that looks like a fair amount. It’s not. Add more.

Then, you take your bacon, and cut it in half. You probably could cut it in thirds, but I don’t know what that’s like. So halve it.

And really, you wrap it around. Make sure the “seam” of the bacon, or where it overlaps, is on the bottom of the date. So it’s resting on the seam. That way the bacon won’t uncurl itself.

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You’ll see that I used wax paper on the baking sheet. Not really necessary. I could have used foil (I was sort of following a recipe that said to use parchment paper which I never have, so I used wax paper, which I didn’t really need). But do note that again, these make kind of a mess, so use a PAN, not a sheet.

And then you cook at 450 for like…17-20 minutes. Mine took longer because I used thick cut bacon, so probably less if you use thin cut. But I only use thick cut. So there.

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And then enjoy!

I actually found these were better the next day because the bacon got crispier. I just put them in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute to reheat them, and voila!

Oh, and don’t pop these suckas in your mouth without checking the temperature. My friend burnt his mouth that way. I warned him.

On a completely unrelated note to this recipe, but still related to bacon, I just burnt a batch while typing this because I didn’t check to see if it was done and I was going to make chocolate covered bacon. So you’re welcome. Any ideas on what to do with completely burned bacon?

You’ll need (INGREDIENTS):

– Package of dates

– Package of bacon

– Goat cheese

You’ll do (INSTRUCTIONS):

1. Preheat the oven to 450

2. Cut the dates open (but not in half) to remove the pit

3. Take as much goat cheese as you want (stuff the sucka full!) and put it in side the date. Squeeze slightly closed

4. Cut bacon in half and wrap each date with a half a piece of bacon

5. Place date with bacon seam down on a baking PAN (with foil, waxed paper, naked, whatever you want)

6. Depending on the thickness of the bacon, cook anywhere from 15-20 minutes

7. You’ll know it’s done when the bacon looks done

8. Remove from pan so it’s not continually soaking in the bacon grease, and let cool enough so you don’t burn your mouth

9. Enjoy!

Disappearing Act

I’m currently sitting in the San Jose airport waiting to fly to LA to spend the next two days working from Cali before spending the weekend with my Kwanster. But when I checked into the airport this evening on Foursquare, it told me I’d had 7 airport check-ins this month.

Sigh.

That’s where I’ve been.

I was (and still am planning on!) writing about my brother getting married, maybe Christmas and the awesomeness of the poncho I bought yesterday.

But for now, I’m tired.

So I’ll write about them. Promise. Oh. And I’ll write about seeing Rev Run. But not about how I sang It’s Tricky to him because that didn’t actually happen. But I do know every word!

And if you stick around, I’ll give you the recipe for the paleo pancakes I’ve been making at least once a week.

Sheesh. I just promised y’all a lot. Guess I have to follow through on all of this!

But for now. In case you’re ever at the San Jose airport, the chairs have plugs in the armrests. It really is the little things.

Chicken Legs, Drumsticks, Whatever Recipe

I’m very much of a “show me how to do it” person. I’m without a doubt, a Kinesthetic Learner. That applies to everything from math to hair to recipes. And because I learn by doing, I probably won’t be including the meat crust quiche that is currently in the oven (but you can get the recipe here!) That’s mainly due to my inability to read through a recipe beyond the first step to know that I should have diced the veggies before putting the butter on the stove with the garlic to melt thus meaning I had to cut like a mad woman. No worries – all fingers are still attached.

However, as promised, albeit it a late delivered promise, I do have the recipe for the chicken legs. Or drumsticks. Or whatever you call them. Just call them delicious for ease sake.

It feels silly posting it because it is SO easy, but I’ve had 3 people, multiple times, ask since that photo, so I am now providing it to the masses. With step-by-step photos! The learner in me is pleased.

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Okay so first. Chicken delicious…this is important. I got the small ones from Whole Foods because you know, they sell happy chickens who get killed. That’s your best bet with this recipe. I tried it this weekend with the huge chicken delicious from Tyson who clearly sells the unhappy chickens who get killed. Major difference. The first time, the delicious were cooked to perfection with ultra crispy outsides. The unhappy chickens weren’t as crispy but the outsides were getting slightly burned. It may be because I used more fat. But anyway, doesn’t eating happy chickens mean you’re happier too? I digress.

Preheat your oven to 475. Yep. That’s not a mistype. You want it hot. Like HOT HOT HOT. That helps the outsides get crispy while the insides still say moist. My friend, Maia, says something like because they’re already fatty that helps them stay moist. I know nothing of those such details, but I trust her. She knows her stuff.

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You’re gonna need some fat for these bad boys. I used butter because I had it. But bacon fat (OMG YUM!) or coconut oil (I was out…bummer) would work equally well. But it needs to be in liquid form. So melt your fat. No weight loss pun, intended. I used 3/4 a stick of butter for 6 delicious. Using delicious as a noun is killing the grammar queen in me. But then..go WILD. Seriously. With your spices. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano, but it’s totally up to you. These are your chicken delicious. What flavors do you want?

Anyway…put that all in a bowl and use your hands to mix it up. Oh…you thought you wouldn’t get dirty in the process? Clearly you missed the part above about me being a hands-on learner. That’s what kinesthetic means.

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The goop won’t stay in true liquid form so it’ll become thicker goop. That’s okay. Just make sure your delicious have it on them.

Put it in the oven.

Oh…this is also VERY IMPORTANT. You must use a baking PAN for this. Not a baking sheet. You knew that…right? The goop will melt and will get everywhere if you don’t use a pan. But you probably already knew that. Just double checking.

So there aren’t photos for these next steps because yawn…who wants a photo of a timer. But you cook these for roughly 40 minutes. And you need to flip them every 10 minutes to make sure each side is getting equal treatment.

AND THE SMOKE. So apparently things start smoking over 400 degrees (thanks Maia!). And by things, I’m pretty sure fat or oil. Yeah…didn’t know that. My entire apartment was a haze of smoke. It burned my eyes every time I opened the oven to flip the delicious. I thought about pulling out my swim goggles. I don’t have a remedy for these…except open windows or doors. But maybe wait until it’s not 10 degrees outside to make these.

When the skin starts to come off the delicious and just in general look brown and crispy, you’ll know they’re done. The happy chicken delicious took about 38 minutes. The unhappy chicken delicious, I probably should have left in for about 3 more minutes, but took out after 40.

And the result?

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You’ll have to trust me. They’re super crispy. Since I essentially only use my phone for my photos because I’ve long given up my dream at being anything more than a sometimes amateur food blogger, it doesn’t show the amazingness.

BUT.

These may be the most delicious things I’ve ever made.

And I’ve made a lot of things.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t eat all of them in one sitting, and I am still unsure of how to reheat them to make them crispy again. Any recos on that?

Okay…so the formal recipe?

You’ll need (INGREDIENTS):

– Package of 5-6 Chicken legs, drumsticks, delicious

– Some type of fat (again, I used 3/4 stick of butter…but whatever coats the delicious)

– Salt

– Pepper

– Your choice of spices – I used garlic powder and oregano, but I’m sure basil, lemon salt, paprika, anything your heart desires would be delicious

You’ll do (INSTRUCTIONS):

1. Preheat oven to 475

2. Melt fat down to liquid

3. Put chicken whatevers with liquid fat, salt, pepper and spices in a bowl and mix

4. Place chicken whatevers on baking pan spread so they’re not touching. Make sure the thickened fat/spices that remains in the bowl gets put on each delicious

5. Open all windows/doors and take out smoke alarm batteries

6. Cook chicken whatevers for 40ish minutes flipping every 10 minutes

7. They’re done when the skin looks brown, crispy and is pulling away from the meat

8. Eat as soon as they’ve cooled down enough to do so.

Julia Child is rolling over in her grave with my instructions.

Oh and that quiche? Here’s a picture of the final product.

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Not Quite Christmas Cookies

Tis the season of baking.

One downside of being gluten intolerant is that this is a time where I typically take a backseat. I don’t even actually really crave Christmas cookies. You know, the ones in the shapes of Christmas trees, candy canes, stars, reindeer with brightly colored icing on top. But I crave them in theory. Christmas treats of sort.


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To be really honest, I’m not a huge cookie person. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them. But with sweets, ice cream is my weakness. Except for Christmas time. Christmas time, I want cookies.

Since my friend Maia made the cookies I posted here, I’ve been itching to make some. But this time, I was craving pumpkin flavor, so I did some investigating, and came across this recipe.

I made it as is, so I’ll let you go check it out.

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Some caveats. They weren’t as good as the recipe I posted about before. The almond flour gave it a much more grainy texture that I didn’t enjoy. Maia suggested next time, I use butter instead of the almond flour to help with that. Plus, I bought creamy almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but it still had some grit to it. So I’d make sure to get real creamy almond butter next time.

Also, I added more pumpkin spice because I love the flavor of pumpkin and want to make sure the flavor comes through.

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The next cookie recipe I have on my list is….drumroll please….these. Just look at those! Seriously!

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Cookies.

I got in a tiff with food this morning. I was minding my own business, going through my typical morning routine of getting breakfast ready and sitting down to watch some TV while I ate. This morning, I stepped away from my typical smoothie and instead opted to have some bacon that I had made a few days before. Apparently my digestive system and the bacon didn’t feel like getting along because from swallowing for about 30 more minutes, I was in pain. Kind of like when you don’t chew a piece of bread all the way and the edge scraps down your esophagus, like that. Except worse.

So I decided that I was over breakfast.

While I was not eating breakfast, I decided to check my Google Reader, and stumbled upon this recipe. Done.

I’ll save you my thought process, but basically it went something like – looks delicious, soft food that my esophagus might tolerate, paleo, grain free, what what?? So of course I had to instantly make them. Or like 2 hours later. Same difference.

I copied that recipe verbatim, so just go check it out and make it that way.

They are absolutely delicious. Gooey, soft, flavorful, gobble worthy. I even tested them on a few co-workers and they couldn’t believe they’re dairy, grain and refined-sugar free. And my digestive system tolerated them. I’d call that a win-win.

One of my friends did point out that it would make an excellent cookie crust because it is so gooey. So just wait…maybe I’ll actually get back into baking again. But don’t hold your breath. Although my mind is already spinning with delicious cookie crust cheesecakes/cakes/ice cream ideas. Paleo ice cream with pieces of this in it? That might really be the true definition of food porn.

She didn’t note this in the recipe, but to make it paleo, make sure you use raw almond butter, not the regular roasted stuff because that has sugar in it. And if you don’t like almonds (what’s wrong with you??), I’m sure it could work with peanut butter (making it not paleo), cashew, walnut or macadamia butter. It really only yields 15ish cookies, so it’s not the most cost effective recipe with the ingredients, but like I care in this moment. I’ll care when I check my bank account later, but now, psh.

This recipe also only takes approximately 5 minutes to make. And that’s an exaggeration – I could make this in 2 if you made me. It takes longer for the oven to heat up. So what’s your excuse?

Mashed Potatoes, Cauliflower Style. REMIX

I thought if I just put the title as “Mashed Cauliflower” I’d probably only get a few readers. Or maybe that’s just because I didn’t like cauliflower growing up. I would never define myself as a picky eater because I’m … Continue reading

Drinking for Cooler Weather

I am aching for fall right now. Ever fiber in my being is desiring fall. Which is ironic because I actually really don’t like fall. My allergies come out and I get all sneezy and itchy and cranky because I know my least favorite season is coming. Don’t get me started on winter.

But fall means cozy clothes and most importantly, cooler weather. A break from the rainforest outside which literally turns your entire body to a self-sustaining pool. And not in a good way.

Plus – can we talk about how hard it is to look good when you’re out when it’s 90 degrees with 100% humidity? Oh hey – I just met you, and I’m sweating buckets with a shiny face and flat hair, but here’s my number, so call me, maybe? Fail.

Back to my longing for fall – it comes with a craving for pumpkin. I know that’s weird. Fruit is in season. And I love my fruit (see best breakfast ever), but in the evenings, after a hard workout, I want pumpkin. I should also mention that I’m off of sugar again which has been awful because work has been extra stressful and the only thing I really have to turn to is vegetables. Yum.

So this evening as I was trying to get some extra work in, I decided that I was going to cave to my pumpkin craving and make my own version of a pumpkin smoothie. I know it’s not terribly nutritious, but I was hungry and it seemed better than the other things I was craving i.e. chocolate. It’s also paleo – woot woot! Plus…did I mention it’s dairy free? Yeah, dairy and I are having issues again. We’ll get over it. Eventually.

All you need is:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 large scoops of pumpkin puree
  • About a dropper full of stevia
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • Dash of cloves
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of pumpkin pie spice
  • Dash of nutmeg (I didn’t have any, but I know it would be extra delicious)
  • Squirt of honey
  • 4-6 ice cubes

 

I know the lighting sucks – we’ve been having some major storms in Cincinnati, but have I mentioned how obsessed I am with my Vitamix? I caved awhile ago and bought a refurbished one off their website so I still got the warranty, but I got it for a much more affordable price. I tend to use it at least once a day. Totally worth it.

And yep…I know you’re all shocked. Two posts in a week and both about food. Yep Chicken Little, the sky is falling.

A Few of My Favorite Things

The past few days, I have had a one track mind. Okay, maybe a two track mind. But really, a one track mind. I cannot stop thinking about food. Food, glorious food! Cinnamon rolls and bacon and cupcakes and frozen yogurt and cream and peanut butter and really, the list goes on. The second thing being The Hunger Games trilogy, but that’s a different story.

Up until probably Friday, the cleanse has been fairly easy. The time has been flying, and the lack of food choices haven’t bothered me. And then I got sick. A cold gone bad which for some reason seemed to stir up my appetite. It’s also hard when you’re sick and all you want is comfort food which is the last thing you can have. (Nothing like having the flu in Africa without any Western medicine – but that’s a different story).

It also doesn’t help that I follow food blogs and I’m hooked on recipes on Pinterest. I’m planning on going Paleo after the cleanse ends, so I’ve been pinning recipes for that – which does little to help the appetite.

But – I do feel a lot better, have had no headaches or stomach issues which is a huge deal for me. Aside from the cold, my health has dramatically improved. Makes it worth it.

Since I can’t post recipes, I decided to post a few of my favorite things. Most of these are things I’m using on the cleanse, but as a special treat, I’ve thrown in a few post cleanse things.

Enjoy!

Ah my Tervis Tumbler. I go everywhere with this thing. Considering I drink between 100-150 oz of water a day, it’s pretty much glued to my hand. I used to carry a CamelBak water bottle around, but the lid kept leaking so I switched to this. Doesn’t hurt that my favorite flower is a poppy.

I just bought this stuff at Fresh Market and I’m hooked! I adore garlic (and now I’m thinking of garlic bread – see, one track mind) and this may be the best garlic salt I’ve ever had. I could legitimately eat it straight (although I won’t because who does that? Okay I may have a little bit, oops).

Another Fresh Market purchase, but this has been the saving grace through the cleanse. This and any other mustard. Plus it makes me think of hot dogs which I love.

I’ve been drinking the decaf version of this while I type. My mom and I have tried many, MANY different kind of teas, and we keep coming back to this. Sweetened with a little stevia, it’s amazing. Granted, it’s a lot better off cleanse with a splash of cream, but even without, it’s still delicious. But really, if you can, try it with whole cream. You’ll thank me.

And because it can’t be a post without some actual food, a little something I found on Pinterest. If you want to see all the recipes I’ve pinned, you can check it out here: http://pinterest.com/hopernorman/grocery-list-making/

Buckeye Peanut Butter Balls (check it out here)

I couldn’t resist – here are two more.

Chocolate ice cream made with coconut milk and honey. Get the recipe here.

And probably the thing I’m looking forward to the most – bacon crusted sweet potato. You gotta make this for me and let me know how it is. Get the recipe here.

The cleanse ends March 9, just in time for me to go to Austin for SXSW, but you better believe the morning of the 9th, I will be frying up some bacon before my flight. BACON BACON BACON!

 

 

New Year, New You

As I sit here drinking tea and watching House Hunters, I can’t help but think about how much my life has changed since my previous post.

Don’t worry, dear readers, I am still very much gluten-free.  So I don’t need to change of the name of my blog, or rebrand myself.

The main area of change is that I am officially done with my cleanse.  Technically I’ve been done since Dec. 15, but beside being busy, I’ve been trying to figure out which foods my body has reactions to.

I went pretty dairy crazy at the end of the cleanse because I was so excited to eat cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, any and everything with milk.  And my stomach got a little iffy on that.  So I’ve really tried to cut back on milk except for cream which I put in my tea.

Otherwise, my body had some weird reactions to foods, not in the sense of my usual stomach issues, but with bloating and weight gain.  As in like 3 lbs in a day without overeating.  I finally found a balance that my body seems to enjoy with a high protein, low carb diet.  I’m not eating sugars or starches, so it’s not that difficult – and it does give me the ability to eat bacon which makes up for the lack of cheese.  I also gave up snacking which my body has reacted well to.  Finally, I take a probiotic daily just to help with food digestion.

My typical meals (since I know you’re gonna ask) are:

Breakfast: Eggs, bacon or sausage and tea

Lunch: Assortment of options – but often a salad with a protein and balsamic vinegar.

Dinner: Protein and some assortment of vegetables

It’s fairly similar to the Paleo diet, just with slight modifications based on my stomach.

I’m planning on doing the cleanse again at the end of January to give my body another period of time to heal from any potential food allergies, as well as because I lost a significant amount of weight this first time – so why not??

I did go off my eating plan for a trip to Chicago for New Years.  No gluten, but I did have some sugars, starches, fast food and alcohol.  I was nervous the entire time I’d have an “episode” but my stomach was fine the entire time.  Even after drinking on New Year’s Eve.  Truly a blessing.

Some other big changes are that I switched jobs.  I’m now working at a market research firm doing digital and social media research for them.  It’s a firm I worked at while still in college, so it’s nice to be back.  I also just found out today that they’re sending me to SXSW in March, so I’m pretty pumped!  Here I come, Austin!

I also got new glasses to take advantage of my old insurance while I still had it.  They’re matching my New Year, New You theme.

Aside from all that, everything else is the same.  I promise to post recipes soon.  I have experimented with this chocolate dessert made with stevia and coconut oil.  It tastes pretty similar to the chocolate coating you get on ice cream that hardens which I love.  Now if only I could figure out how to make it cherry flavored…

And as my word of advice to all my readers – I rarely make resolutions, but this year is slightly different.  This year I’m putting my health as my number #1 priority and making sure I get my stomach issues completely under control.  If there’s something that’s nagging you, take it upon yourself this year to fix it.  If not now, when?